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Last updated October 22, 2015

In 2003 when I founded the American Sambo Association with my coach Alexander Barakov, the Sambo community in the United States was in a critical state of division and rapidly declining. We came on the scene as a small group intending to help bridge divides in the community and promote our beloved style. I am very proud to say that in the 12 years since our founding, we have achieved these goals and so much more.

The ASA has been a voice for the American Sambo community for over a decade. In that time we have trained multitudes of people across this country while serving as a resource for those who wanted to know more, learn and get involved. Without sounding boastful, I think it is fair to say that the ASA came along at the right time and was able to put Sambo back on the map in the United States after a great period of political strife and decay.

In 12 years we have grown to be the largest and most known organization for the promotion of Sambo in the United States. We have had member clubs in 27 states (and several countries) and have actively worked towards promotion of Sambo through continued media presence, social media, educational and competition opportunities. Over the past years our name has become synonymous with United States Sambo.

We have built strong relations with many members of the Sambo community, both domestically and abroad, as well as many other martial art organizations. The ASA has worked closely with Igor Kurinnoy to implement our bi-annual international training camps, and we have cooperated with the various FIAS representatives in the United States during the past 12 years. In 2008, my good friend Oleg Savitsky and I were actively involved in assembling and coaching the US World Team for the 70th Anniversary World Championships in St. Petersburg. Since 2010 our ASA athletes have brought home 9 Gold medals, 7 Silver medals, and 7 Bronze medals in FIAS sanctioned international competition including the USA Sambo Open, the British Sambo Open Championships, The Dutch Sambo Open Championships, and the Scottish Open Sambo Championships. Additionally, my good friend and student Boris Timoshin took home two medals from the St. Petersburg Championships among Veterans in 2011. That is a total of 25 international Sambo medals in 5 years.

While political divides have diminished over the years (thankfully), they have not been absent. The ASA has always tried to remain as neutral as possible as we believe it is no good for the growth of our sport to get involved in such battles. We have always supported our athletes first and avoided politics which would hurt them. We have cooperated with all parties that can help the growth of Sambo in the U.S., though it is not always possible and not all parties wish to cooperate with each other. In the end, we believe our continued neutrality has been an asset for the growth of Sambo in the U.S.

Since our founding the ASA has held 35 tournaments, developed objective and structured criteria for athlete, coach and referee development, and importantly, the ASA has built extensive social media, print, film, and television relationships which we have used on a regular basis to promote Sambo in the U.S. Our web presence has been vast with over two million views & four thousand subscribers on our Youtube channel alone. We are also very proud of the fact that we have built the most extensive archive of American Sambo history available for all. In summary, the American Sambo Association has been the largest, most active, and most influential Sambo organization in the United States for the past 12 years.

Having said all this, the Sambo community is a much different place than it was a decade ago or more. This is a great thing! Sambo is no longer in the shadows and the ASA has clearly lived up to its mandate to promote and grow the sport in the United States. Inasmuch, after much discussion with our board (and with their agreement), I have decided to retire the ASA. I do so with the knowledge that this 12 year long experiment was a fantastic success. I do so with the knowledge that the great friendships and relationships forged will continue to grow in new and fantastic ways. I do this with the knowledge that over the past 12 years the ASA has created an incredible lineage of incredible American sambists.

While this decision is a bittersweet one for me, I do want everyone to know that I will continue to host the Sambo Summit annually as a stand alone event, and Gregg Humphreys will continue organizing our bi-annual Kurinnoy training camps. I will also keep an archive version of our website on line as a permanent record of our history and vast array of achievements. When we started the ASA in 2003, U.S. Sambo was in a significant period of crisis & decline. I like to think the ASA righted that course to some degree and gave our style the voice it needed.

My final words will be of thanks to our Executive Board, without whom none of what we have achieved would have been possible: Alexander Barakov, Serge Gerlach, Aaron Fields, Gregg Humphreys, Reilly Bodycomb, Vladislav Koulikov, Dayn DeRose, Carlos Cummings, Darrin Richardson, Masa Yoshizawa, Vadim Kolganov, Kris Iatskevich and Ulf Elm. You are all my closest and most trusted friends. It has been a true pleasure to work with you in this great Sambo experiment called the ASA. I look forward to future successes!

Lastly and most importantly, to all our current and past members, followers, subscribers, athletes, students, fans and friends. Without you, there would have never been an ASA. You are the U.S. Sambo community keep it growing. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Stephen Koepfer

President & Co-Founder, American Sambo Association